The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Steinhardt)
136. 1. The Soviet Embassy was informally advised yesterday and again today that Canal authorities had not as yet been informed of the contemplated arrival of the Kim. Simultaneously it was pointed out to the Embassy that the Department was perturbed at reports from Moscow that Nelson was having difficulties with the customs authorities, who were insisting that his effects be inspected [Page 853]and packed at the customs house, and it was suggested that the Embassy inform its Government at once of the Department’s concern in this matter.
2. The Soviet Chargé d’Affaires yesterday afternoon asked why the Department was connecting the matter of the Kim with the customs inspection of Nelson’s merchandise, and was informed that the situation seemed to be that the Soviet Government was concerned regarding the Kim and the Department was concerned regarding the customs treatment accorded members of the Embassy in Moscow.
3. Following message is being sent this evening to the Panama Canal authorities by the Canal Office in Washington:
“It is understood that the Soviet steamship Kim without bill of health was due to enter Canal August 30. In view of attitude shown by Soviet customs authorities to our Embassy Moscow it would be appreciated if you give steamship most rigid treatment possible compatible with laws and regulations. If there are legal grounds for detaining vessel pending further word from State Department through this office, would appreciate your holding it. No intimation should be given to Captain or crew that you are giving vessel other than usual treatment or that you have any special reason for rigid attitude. Please keep this office informed by radio of steps taken.”
4. You will be kept informed of developments. Please keep Department informed.